Josh Mart previews tonight’s match as Lyon faces Ukrainian side Chornomorets at the Stade Gerland in the 2nd leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie tonight. The first leg in Odessa ended in stalemate, with Lyon’s inexperienced squad unable to grab an away goal. The then hosts, Chornomorets, were arguably the better side and unfortunate to not snatch a 1-0 win. With this 2nd leg being played in Lyon, Remi Garde will be confident of his team’s progression to the next round
With the first leg ending scoreless, this tie is well and truly in the balance as a goal for Chornomorets would mean that Lyon have to win due to the away goals rule. This could ensue a cautious 90 minutes with Lyon nervous about pressing to far up the field in fear of conceding that crucial away goal.
The hosts also failed to score in their weekend draw away at Lille who are hopeful of finishing in the Champions League places for next season. A point at Lille however, is a good result for Garde’s men as it maintains their unbeaten run in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, and means that they are now just 4 points behind bitter rivals St Etienne.
Chornomorets were due to resume their Ukrainian Premier League schedule this coming weekend against Metalburg Donetsk; however the resumption of the league has been postponed due to the ongoing political unrest in the country. Despite the first leg against Lyon being Chornomorets first competitive match since mid December, the Ukrainian side competed well and coach Grigorchuk will be optimistic ahead of their trip to the Rhone-Alpes.
Squad Selection and Tactics
Remi Garde took an extremely under strength Lyon squad to Ukraine, something which disappointed many OL fans. However, many of them return for the return leg with Gourcuff and Gonalons the only major names missing from the squad. With this in mind I expect Lyon to up in either a 4-5-1 or a 4-2-2-2 formation. Lopes could be recalled in goals and the back 4 should be back to almost full strength with M.Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti and Bedimo all expected to start. Mvuemba and Ferri could start to shield the back four with Fofana and talisman Clement Grenier recalled to provide his class and vision to supply a strike force of Gomis and Lacazette.
The visitors will probably start off in a similar 4-3-3 formation with Fontanello and Berger providing the solidity in defence and Bobko, Kai and Kovalchuk in front of them. Coach Grigorchuk will hope that his probable front 3 of Leo Matos, Antonov and Dja Djedje can cause Lyon many problems this evening.
Grenier (Lyon) – The return of highly rated playmaker Clement Grenier could help to swing the tie in the favour of Les Gones as his talents were sorely missed in Odessa. The young Frenchman’s performances over the last 18 months have earned him admiring glances from all over the continent, the Europa League could be his platform to earning a big money move to the Premier League or La Liga this summer.
Gai (Chornomorets) – The experienced playmaker could also be key for the visitors tonight. His range of passing caused Lyon’s defense problems in the 1st leg and he will be hoping to create more chances for his teammates tonight.
I expect tonight’s game to be another close fought battle, with neither side wanting to concede that crucial opening goal. If it remains scoreless late in the game, the home side will be extremely nervous as they will be aware that 1 goal would potentially knock them out. However, if the hosts take the game to Chornomorets and score an early goal it will settle the whole stadium and enable Lyon to stamp their authority on the game.
Prediction: Lyon 2-1 Chornomorets